Last night I made Cuban pork stew for dinner It was a plan I hatched when trying to constructively deal with the vast amount of pork shoulder I cooked last week... for two people. The pork was delicious the first round, but just too much for our small household. Without making any trips to the store, I was able to create a delicious soup from my leftovers and some fridge and pantry staples.
I always have soup stock around.
I always have beans on hand, either canned or dried.
I always have onions in my fridge.
I always have bacon in my freezer.
I always have limes in my citrus bowl. - don't you have one sitting on your kitchen table?
Mix these all together, add a few spices like salt, black pepper, and cayenne pepper, and voila! Soup du jour! Why was this stew successful? I kept it simple. I don't need fancy ingredients (or very many ingredients, for that matter) or elaborate cooking methods to jazz up food. I just make sure I have the important elements present: salt, tang, sweet, and texture.
I like thicker soup bases. Sometimes this means I need to puree some of my ingredients to get that, but often a concentrated stock will do the trick. Tomato paste will also have a nice thickening effect if you're going that route. I try to stay away from filler thickeners like corn starch, but I'm not above them if that's what it takes. If the broth tastes like salted water, I am an angry girl.
The best part about the soup? I can freeze it in individual servings for future lunches. I love doing that.